July 8, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Albany, NY – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the formation of a “Commission to Investigate Public Corruption” under the Moreland Act and Executive Law Section 63(8) to probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York State.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced he will appoint the members of the Commission as Deputy Attorneys General, giving the Commission broad-based authority to investigate all matters that “involve public peace, public safety, and public justice.”
Under the Executive Order, the Commission will also have the power to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath as well as subpoena any necessary records. The Governor’s action follows several recent proven and alleged incidents of corruption and misconduct by public officials that have shown that current laws are inadequate and reforms are necessary to guard against abuses, ensure accountability in government, address the need for reform in our campaign finance laws, and restore the public’s confidence and trust in state government and state elections.
The Commission will be headed by Kathleen Rice the Nassau County District Attorney and William J. Fitzpatrick who has served as Onondaga County's District Attorney for the past 28 years.
“We must root out corruption in politics and government,” Governor Cuomo said. “This session, I put forward the most comprehensive and aggressive legislative package Albany has seen in decades to address the corrosive influence of money in elections, strengthen prosecutors’ ability to fight corruption, increase penalties against those who violate the public trust, and give voters more access to the ballot box. From the beginning, I said I would not accept a watered-down approach to cleaning up Albany and that the Legislature must either pass this legislative package or I would empanel an investigative commission tasked with accomplishing these same goals to achieve reform. Since the Legislature has failed to act, I am formally empanelling a Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.”
“New Yorkers want real reform, and expect and deserve the officials they put in office to be working to serve the public interest, not their own,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This commission will be able to conduct a top to bottom investigation of New York State’s government.”
Previous commissions established by former governors, including Governors Mario Cuomo, Thomas Dewey, and Nelson Rockefeller, conducted investigations to uncover the facts involving corruption and misconduct in many different areas, including, for example, certain private industries, local governments, state agencies, political campaigns for all State offices and political parties.
“Governor Cuomo has made it clear that corruption in New York’s government will not be tolerated,” said Co-Chair Kathleen Rice. “Over the past two and a half years, he has taken bold steps to restore integrity in state government and this past legislative session, he proposed major reforms to fight public corruption and ensure fairer and honest elections. The Moreland Commission on Public Corruption will carry out those important goals by undertaking a thorough investigation and review of existing laws so that we can find ways to improve them and protect the rights of New Yorkers.”